If we follow the stereotypes women cry on each other's shoulders. They talk in confidence about their disappointments, about love lost, about their loss of self confidence. They are not looking for solutions to their problems, but a place to vent, a place to be accepted and to find respect. Tears heal.
Men are conditioned by society not to cry, but they have their own ways of caring. My girl friend laughs when she sees movies and TV shows where men pat each other on the shoulder, sigh and stay silent. "Ah, that was a man hug!" she tells me. It was. And then the pals prove their love for each other by getting drunk.
This sharing of pain and love is mostly forbidden for crossdreamers. Heck, it must be hard for any transgender person, but confessing the idea that you get turned on by imagining yourself the opposite sex is -- let' say -- very risky.
I must admit this makes me feel very lonely sometimes, even among the best of friends. I had this absurd conversation the other day in a company dominated by gay men. They discussed freely their experiences as homosexuals, their attraction to men, their adventures and affairs and their struggle to adapt to heteronormative society.
Had I told them about my secret life, they would have understood. They would even have been sympathetic. But I could not tell them, because if I did, it would soon be known among many of my friends and colleagues.
If I had told my heterosexual friends I was gay, that would not matter. In my circles in sexually liberated Scandinavia being gay is not a big deal. Being a crossdreamer, however, is unheard of, and my fellow straight friends would have no place in their mind map to put me except for the perverted fetishist spot. Which is why I have to keep quiet about it.
When I read the many life stories published over at Crossdream Life, I see that crossdreamers find many ways of coping with this. Some tell their loved ones. Some of them lose their families that way, but others (as documented by blogs like My Husband is an Autogynephiliac and Yes, she is my husband) find acceptance.
Some find a good therapist. Again you may be unlucky and find a "professional" with a lack of empathy and understanding, but the psychologist, psychiatrist or sexologist does not necessarily have to know much about crossdreaming to be of help. What we need are someone with an open mind who is willing to listen.
Others hook up with other transgender people and many join transgender communities online. Some of them, like Crossdream Life and Rachel's Haven (explicit content!), are made by crossdreamers for crossdreamers, and the participants therefore find a safe place, avoiding some of the vicious attacks they may meet in other forums.
What do you do to cope?